- 6 Apr 2020
Date received: 6 Mar 2020
Date responded: 3 Apr 2020
You asked “for all correspondence, notes of meetings and telephone calls and any other documentation referring to the Mossmorran Petrochemical Works/Fife Ethylene Plant/ExxonMobil involving ministers (particularly but not exclusively Paul Wheelhouse and Roseanne Cunningham) or members of their offices.”
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested concerning the Scottish Government in Annex B to this letter. Due to the volume of information Annex B is in three parts. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exceptions under regulation 10(4)(e) and regulation 11(2) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies is explained in the Annex A to this letter.
Annex A - Reasons for not providing information
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs internal communications applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to internal exchanges and release could compromise our collective ability to reach an agreed policy position.
This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between officials whilst we are still developing an agreed policy position.
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exception is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House